Monday, February 04, 2019

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 4.2.19

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable
Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain
  • The Catalan separatists currently housed at the pleasure of Spain's monarchs will go on trial shortly. This was supposed to happen today but things have been postponed for a while. In a Times article it's reported that the accused face jail sentences of up to 17 years. Which would surely cause one hell of a storm, both nationally and internationally. But, given that Spain's highest courts still show a right-wing bias, this is certainly a possibility, if not a probability.
  • Spain is awash with beautiful village. Here's El País's list of 11 of these.
  • In this article on Spain's most priceless treasures, there's this sentence on the 1702 battle in the nearby Bay of Vigo: During the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1713), 19 Spanish ships guarded by 23 French ships sailed into the Vigo estuary in Galicia carrying 108 million silver and gold coins destined to fund Felipe V’s side of the argument. But Anglo-Dutch pirates attacked them and, after a gruelling battle, made off with 40 million. The rest of the booty still lies in its watery grave waiting to be recovered. There are several things wrong with this short account, making me wonder who on earth wrote it. Firstly, the Anglo-Dutch force was not manned by 'pirates'; they were part of the 2 countries' navies, waging war against their Spanish and French counterparts. Secondly, there wasn't a 'gruelling battle'; given that the Spanish and French ships were at anchor in a bay, it was more like shooting fish in a barrel. Thirdly, most of the bullion had been offloaded and sent to Segovia before the battle started. Finally, the accepted view now is that there's none of the treasure still lying on the floor of the bay. Hard to believe the author could have got this brief account more wrong. It was this war, by the way, that ended with the Treaty of Utrecht, under which Gibraltar was ceded by Spain to Britain. About which the 2 countries are still arguing, more than 300 years later. 
  • Talking of errors . . . The Pontevedra bypass will be the A57, not the A51, as I mis-typed yesterday.
The UK 
  • Not long after I'd voiced my severe dislike of the BBC's Question Time program comes a (Daily Telegraph) article which begins:- There are many good reasons to avoid 'Question Time' - from the ranty audience members to the unfunny Corbynista comics and the SNP politicians who somehow manage to link every issue, however tangentially, back to Scottish independence. Not for nothing does the show leave many viewers shouting at the TV . . . Recently it has also become a prime example of the Brexit bias which pervades the BBC.  I rest my case.
The UK
  • I wrote recently that Spain was now the leading European nation when it comes to seizing hauls of cocaine. Here's an article on why so much of the stuff is destined for the UK. Astonishing.
The UK and Brexit
  • There are lots of articles in the British MSM this week on the alleged chimerical nature of the troublesome 'Irish back-stop'. One of these is posted below. Some good questions.
  • But Richard North - an ardent Brexiteer don't forget - insists here that the notion that there are technical fixes that will enable the Irish to avoid a hard border if there's a No-deal Brexit is a 'zombie idea' of no merit. Essentially, without a shared 'regulatory framework' tech solutions on their own won't be enough to allow smooth trading. And it's the current framework that will disappear overnight, if there's a hard Brexit on 31 March. I think. Anyway, RN believes that Mrs May's mission to get the EU to go with technical solutions and remove the backup provision from the Withdrawal Agreement is doomed to failure.
  • All in all, we still seem to be heading for a denouement which only a few rich, ambitious and insane politicians want.
  • US intelligence briefers spill the beans on Trump.
  • Bill Maher: I can't tell where the lies end and the dementia begins. How very true.
Social Media
  • See the long Times article below on the scathing views of an ex Zuckerberg mentor on Facebook's current corporate culture. 
  • In the late 19th century and early 20th century, the American government brought in 'antitrust' legislation to deal with the corporate  criminals of that era. Surely something analogous is now necessary to deal with Facebook, Google and even Apple.
  • Odd old word: Cade-lamb: 'A lamb brought up in a house, and so a pet child'.
Finally . . .
  • Talking of shouting at the TV screen . . . There's an ad on British TV at the moment - for a bingo company - which features that very irritating Macarena song of a few years back. Just in case you're a cave dweller, here's the original song. And here's the ad.

1.  Twelve reasons why the Irish backstop makes no sense at all: Henry Newman, Director of Open Europe, and a former Government advisor.

I campaigned for Brexit and worked for Vote Leave. Although not blind to its flaws, I’ve been a cautious supporter of Theresa May’s deal as the best available option. However, I have had substantial concerns about the backstop ever since it was proposed in 2017. Here are 12 of its riddles.
  1.  It is intended to prevent a hard Irish border if there’s no deal. But the backstop is now the obstacle blocking a deal, and so risks a hardening of that border.
  2.  Ireland’s Europe minister, Helen McEntee, recently suggested that the UK would have to apply parts of the backstop even if there’s no deal. If that’s true why do we need a backstop in the deal?
  3.  The EU’s Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said if there’s No Deal the EU will “find... an operational way” of avoiding a hard border by carrying out checks away from the frontier. If so, what’s the point of the backstop?
  4.  The deal commits Brussels to using “best endeavours” to find “alternate solutions” to the backstop. But Barnier’s deputy has said “no such alternatives exist”. In that case, can the UK be sure the EU made those promises in good faith and that the backstop won’t trap us permanently?
  5.  In the Brexit deal the “intention” is only to have a temporary backstop because the EU argues that, under its laws, the divorce deal cannot create permanent structures. If it’s supposed to be temporary, why not have a backstop time-limit?
  6.  Ireland insists the deal can’t be changed because it was signed off by EU leaders in December. But in 2009 Ireland itself had a protocol added to the Lisbon Treaty because it couldn’t complete domestic ratification, even though EU leaders had approved the Treaty in 2007.
  7.  When Parliament rejected the deal in December, Brussels declared it didn’t know what the UK’s objection was – nor how a Parliamentary majority could be found. On Tuesday, MPs spelled that out, backing the deal if the backstop’s issues were addressed. But European Council President, Donald Tusk, then claimed that they “still don’t know what the UK does want”.
  8.  Barnier’s team say they are “open” to alternatives to the backstop including technology, yet they can’t consider those until after the deal is agreed. But it was Brussels that insisted on phasing Brexit negotiations, forcing the UK to agree a backstop without clarity on future relations.
  9.  Ireland insists the backstop is needed to protect the Belfast/ Good Friday Agreement but some constitutional experts argue that the backstop itself undermines that agreement.
  10.  The EU are furious that the UK wants to change a deal that has been signed off. But what did they expect after the biggest defeat in Parliamentary history? Unless and until MPs back a deal, there can be no agreement.
  11.  We keep hearing that the deal “is not open for re-negotiation”. But last Saturday, Brussels suggested they could soften the backstop if the UK moved towards a customs union. Is the deal locked down or not?
  12.  The EU now suggest we could avoid the backstop by staying in the Customs Union and Single Market. How does this not make a mockery of the right to leave under Article 50?
2. Roger McNamee: Facebook, fake news and social media’s threat to democracy

He was a Silicon Valley boss when, in the early days of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg turned to him for investment and advice. He would become a mentor to the 22-year-old tech genius. Now Roger McNamee has written an explosive book taking the social network to task. Ben Hoyle meets him

A few months into his comfortable retirement, Roger McNamee embarked on a mission that promised to alienate many of his friends, held little prospect of immediate success and could eventually cost him a fortune.

He set out to convince a complacent world to defend itself against Facebook.

Others had already sounded a similar alarm but McNamee, 62, brought unusual credibility and first-hand insight to the cause. One of the most illustrious investors in the history of Silicon Valley, he was also an early funder of Facebook, a mentor to Mark Zuckerberg and a pivotal figure in the recruitment of the company’s second in command, Sheryl Sandberg, the author of the feminist manifesto Lean In.

Soon it wasn’t just Facebook that troubled McNamee. The more he investigated, the more he came to think that Google, which he knew less well, was at least as damaging as its fellow internet platform to democracy, public health, privacy and the wider economy, and the more he suspected that both of them were exploiting the “weakest aspects of human psychology” for profit in ways that were only going to get more frightening.

These conclusions, which he and a close-knit group of allies have spent the past two years sharing with politicians, prosecutors, television audiences and technology leaders, are now laid out in McNamee’s new book, Zucked: Waking up to the Facebook Catastrophe. And they have filled him with despair.

“Some of the things that I’ve discovered have broken my heart,” he says, sitting in a large wood-panelled living room half an hour south of San Francisco.

“This has been the single most disappointing experience of my entire life,” McNamee adds, measuring each word carefully for emphasis. “Every aspect of this thing has been crushing. I spent my entire career building up companies like this. And now I am having to challenge two companies that I held in the highest regard for the longest time. With a lot of people, I really cared about working at them.”

McNamee made a lot of money through early investments in Facebook and Google and remains “incredibly proud” of work he did with both companies. He retains significant stock in Facebook on principle to show that he is not acting out of financial self-interest now. Until recently he considered Zuckerberg – “Zuck” to his inner circle – and Sandberg to be friends.

So when proof began to appear that Facebook was actually “causing massive harm”, McNamee was appalled by their reluctance to shoulder responsibility.

In 2017, the company admitted that 126 million users had been exposed to Russian US electoral interference. In February 2018, the special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians and 3 organisations in filings that exposed the ease with which Facebook, Instagram and Twitter had been used to spread disinformation, sow discord and suppress votes in the 2016 election. The following month, the United Nations reported that in Myanmar unchecked hate speech on Facebook had enabled “ethnic cleansing”.

Days later, news broke that the British voter-profiling firm Cambridge Analytica, which had worked with both the Trump presidential campaign and the Brexit Leave team, had improperly harvested the data of up to 87 million people from Facebook accounts and that Facebook had covered this up for 2 years.

Since then the bad news has kept coming for Facebook. And for Google, which last month was fined a record 50 million euro (£44 million) by the French government over its handling of user data.

Today, the situation has escalated past the point where “there’s a soft landing for anybody”, McNamee says.

“The internet platforms have harvested 50 years of trust and goodwill built up by their predecessors,” he writes. “They have taken advantage of that trust to surveil our every action online and to monetise personal data. In the process they have fostered hate speech, conspiracy theories and disinformation, and enabled interference in elections. They have artificially inflated their profits by shirking civic responsibility. The platforms have damaged public health, undermined democracy, violated user privacy and, in the case of Facebook and Google, gained monopoly power, all in the name of profits. No one working inside the internet platforms objected to these outcomes enough to take a public stand against them.”

He suspects that the best solution is to break up both companies and is working to convince regulators and politicians to agree.

McNamee is a lifelong technology evangelist. He is also a committed capitalist, albeit with a self-described “hippy value system” that reflects his other main interest: playing guitar in a psychedelic rock band.

He never sought an activist role. “You’ve seen those comedy movies where they have all those guys in the army lined up, and they’re looking for a volunteer and everybody takes a step back but one guy? That was pretty much how this worked. I was looking at this thing and wondering, ‘Well, who’s going to step up and do something about this?’ And I realised that my biography would be really helpful.

“I’d been an analyst my whole life. I’m really good at pattern recognition. I trust instincts. I trust people. I’m willing to accept that I only know a small fraction of what I need to know to do this.”

The man who is taking on two of the richest and most powerful companies in history has already “survived two strokes, open-heart surgery, life-saving surgery at ten, who woke up with his bedroom on fire in his mid-thirties on Christmas morning … Who had a doctor tell me, ‘You’re almost certainly going to get stomach cancer: you need to radically alter your diet today.’ ”

He pauses. “I am a person who has absorbed a tremendous amount of bad news.”

Facebook was only two years old when McNamee met Mark Zuckerberg for the first time. The future internet titan was 22, facing an “existential crisis” and in need of advice. McNamee, who was then 50, was one of the leaders of Elevation Partners, a digital media and technology private equity fund he had cofounded with Bono, of U2, and a handful of other Silicon Valley luminaries.

Zuckerberg and McNamee sat alone about 3ft apart in a meeting room, and McNamee began by making a short speech in which he anticipated that “if it has not already happened”, Microsoft or Yahoo would soon make a billion-dollar offer for Facebook, which everyone around Zuckerberg would urge him to accept. He should reject it.

“What followed was the longest silence I have endured in a one-on-one meeting,” McNamee writes. “Zuck was lost in thought, pantomiming a range of ‘Thinker’ poses … Eventually, Zuck relaxed and looked at me. He said, ‘You won’t believe this … One of the two companies you mentioned wants to buy Facebook for $1 billion. Pretty much everyone has reacted the way you predicted. They think I should take the deal. How did you know?’ ”

McNamee liked Zuckerberg and for the next three years he counselled this “intense” young man several times a month. He acknowledges there were other mentors, “several of whom played a much larger role than I did”, but between 2006 and 2009, Zuckerberg acted on his advice more often than not.

The most consequential intervention came in 2007, when Zuckerberg confided that he wanted to hire someone who could be a strong No 2. McNamee immediately thought of Sandberg, a Google executive who had introduced him to Bono years before.

Neither Zuckerberg nor Sandberg was sure of the fit, but McNamee brokered a meeting. She joined Facebook as chief operating officer in March 2008.

By then McNamee, Bono and another Elevation partner had made initial personal investments in Facebook. Subsequent opportunities arose for the firm to buy more stock and, at the time of Facebook’s record-breaking initial public offering (IPO) in 2012, Elevation Partners owned a reported 1.5 per cent of the company.

Fast-forward to October 2016. McNamee had not been involved directly with Facebook since 2009 but remained “a huge fan”. During the tumultuous presidential campaign of that year, however, he had become increasingly concerned by how the platform’s algorithms seemed to be accentuating the political polarisation in the country.

He was additionally alarmed by reports of suspected Russian efforts to interfere in the election and wondered if they might be among the bad actors abusing Facebook to spread fake news and sow division. Facebook’s hierarchy appeared to be ignoring the problem. He drafted an essay outlining his fears. Before he submitted it to a technology blog for publication he emailed it, on the advice of his wife, Ann, to Zuckerberg and Sandberg.

The memo, which he never published, told the two executives, “I am disappointed. I am embarrassed. I am ashamed.” He urged them to “be more socially responsible”.

Zuckerberg and Sandberg each responded to his email within hours. They directed him towards the company’s head of media partnerships, who listened patiently to his case over the subsequent weeks but “never budged”.

In February 2017, McNamee concluded that Facebook, he now believed, was “a clear and present danger to democracy” run by a leadership that appeared to be in denial.

Almost two years later, I’m sitting by the largest wood-burning stove I’ve ever seen in that living room in a guest wing of McNamee’s home. It’s on a leafy hill in one of the Silicon Valley enclaves that has yet to be overrun by tech offices or suburban sprawl. On the walls are paintings by Stanley Mouse, who has done artwork for Moonalice, McNamee’s band. Draped over the leather chesterfield opposite is a souvenir blanket from a Paul McCartney tour.

A room down the corridor that has been set aside for the photoshoot is lined with books and more psychedelic art, and overlooked by a gallery of life-size models of Tintin, Captain Haddock, Yoda, R2-D2 and Jerry Garcia.

McNamee ambles into the living room. His shaggy silver hair is centre-parted above John Lennon spectacles.

He sits down, cracks open a Diet Coke and lays out the core of his argument to me. “The problem with Facebook and Google is the business model, which requires them to manipulate attention.” He looks me hard in the eye. “And in order to manipulate attention they need data, which forces them into the surveillance business.

“When you manipulate people’s attention in an advertising-based business, the way that Facebook and Google have done, you essentially give the advertisers access to the innermost secrets and emotions of more than two billion people.”

Those secrets and emotions are effectively for sale. In 2016, the Russians were among the buyers.

“The line between manipulation of attention and manipulation of behaviour turns out to be very fine. I don’t believe either Facebook or Google consciously tries to manipulate your behaviour. I do believe they’ve created platforms that allow advertisers to do that.”

Facebook’s algorithms also favour disinformation over accuracy and extreme messages over neutral ones, because these generate more engagement and therefore greater advertising revenue.

Users are largely unaware of the extent to which they have relinquished their privacy and their free will. Vast data-churning systems lie behind both platforms and follow users around the web, “so when you go on them, you think you’re going on there to look at puppies or to buy a hammer, when you’re in fact playing multidimensional chess against this massive artificial intelligence that not only knows everything about you, but can actually check your emotional state based on how you move the mouse”.

Without Facebook, McNamee claims “there isn’t a chance either Brexit or the US election result in 2016 could have happened”.

The threats to health and to democracy are inextricably linked.

“Facebook and Google harm public health by creating habits that can evolve into behavioural addictions,” McNamee says. These start with young children being able to find hyperstimulating, age-inappropriate videos. They progress through preteens and teens experiencing bullying over the internet and developing acute fear of missing out via social media. The process culminates with adults being channelled into “filter bubbles and preference bubbles”: a personalised Truman Show-style existence where they consume only news and views selected to reinforce their own prejudices, nudging them to “more and more extreme positions”, with catastrophic consequences for public discourse.

Both companies believed that their missions – “collecting all the world’s information for Google, connecting the whole world for Facebook” – were so important that they “justified whatever means were necessary”. Both companies did everything they could to eliminate “friction” – making their services free and as inviting to use as possible.

But the process of “eliminating friction is essentially eliminating all the safeguards that would prevent you from doing harm. So you resist criticism when you get regulatory or legal things, you apologise, you promise to do better … You just keep ploughing ahead.”

In the case of Facebook, “These are not bad people. The problem here is that they failed to recognise that there was a scale above which you cannot escape responsibility for your actions. It doesn’t matter what the law says.”

Up until the day after the US election, McNamee was “willing to give them a pass, because I don’t think it ever occurred to them that stuff going on their platforms was going to change outcomes of elections. I don’t think they had any idea they had that level of power.

“But once they knew, then the game changed really dramatically.”

By November 2017, “they could no longer plausibly claim ignorance” of their platform’s negative impact. That was when Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook vice-president, said in a speech at Stanford University, “I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.”

Zuckerberg and Sandberg could have responded positively to that, McNamee writes. They could have said then, “ ‘We screwed up! We will do everything possible to fix the problems and restore trust.’ ” They did nothing of the sort. “By failing to exploit Palihapitiya’s regrets as a teachable moment, Facebook signalled a commitment to avoiding responsibility for the Russian election interference and all the other problems that had surfaced.”

As a child growing up in a large, loving middle-class family in upstate New York, McNamee was quiet and unambitious. His development was marked by a serious digestive disorder at age two and a near-fatal blood clot suffered in a fall when he was ten, which cemented his feeling of being an outsider.

His parents were both active in politics and civil rights. An increasingly “weird kid”, he was unhappy at high school and spent his senior year in France. Academically, he was “a late bloomer”, but he made it into Yale and loved it.

Then, in 1977, his father died of cancer, leaving the family finances in a precarious state. There was no money for McNamee to finish college. He worked in advertising sales for two and a half years and raised enough to return to Yale, where he joined a rock band and met his future wife. Business school followed and then a job at an investment management firm.

“I began my career on the first day of the bull market of ’82,” he says. “They gave me tech [to cover].” It was the beginning of a charmed 35-year run that McNamee attributes variously to “pure dumb luck”, the childhood struggles that left him “comfortable with being different”, and to the guitar-playing skills that rapidly made him part of the nascent tech sector’s social fabric.

When he arrived in Silicon Valley, it was a very different place from today.

Throughout the second half of the 20th century, constraints on processing power, memory, storage and bandwidth shaped the values of the emerging technology industry. They rewarded experienced engineers who knew how to find workable compromise solutions.

As a result, most of the leading figures were in their forties or older when McNamee started covering the sector in 1982. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, both of whom McNamee got to know early in their careers, stood out partly because their youth made them “complete outliers. The constraints of that era put a limit on hubris and arrogance.”

The industry also benefited from decades of accrued public faith in the desirability of technological progress, as expressed memorably by Ronald Reagan in a 1989 speech in London shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

“The Goliath of totalitarianism will be brought down by the David of the microchip,” he predicted. “I believe that more than armies, more than diplomacy, more than the best intentions of democratic nations, the communications revolution will be the greatest force for the advancement of human freedom the world has ever seen.”

Then everything changed.

Around 2000, just as the first internet bubble burst and cleared the terrain for a new generation of businesses, the computing constraints that had always bound tech companies “finally came off”, McNamee says.

You no longer needed $100 million to build the infrastructure for a software company, because you could rent it by the hour and still set previously unthinkable growth targets. Young entrepreneurs with good ideas did not require a team of grizzled veterans around them any more.

Many of the new arrivals were inspired by the libertarian ethos of the team that started the online payment service PayPal, collectively known as “the PayPal mafia”, whose members had gone on to start Tesla, SpaceX, LinkedIn, YouTube and Yelp, and to provide early funding to Facebook and many other companies.

In McNamee’s view, this was the moment when Silicon Valley became unmoored from its utopian roots in the Sixties counterculture. Steve Jobs, for all his character flaws, saw technology as a humanitarian force and envisaged the computer as a “bicycle for the mind”. Bill and Melinda Gates were already pouring their wealth into fighting poverty and disease around the world.

Libertarianism proved “candidly, really attractive in the Valley, because being absolved of the possibilities of the consequences of your actions was just incredibly convenient”.

McNamee began to notice that the world he moved in had changed and that he was now dealing with “entrepreneurs whose personal value systems were so different from mine that I couldn’t in good conscience invest, and yet I couldn’t run a fund if I weren’t willing to invest in the best that Silicon Valley had to offer”.

He turned down opportunities to buy into Spotify (“Something that’s going to harm musicians”) and Uber (which runs “in careless disregard to the communities in which it operates and to the people who drive the cars”).

Facebook, despite its early “move fast and break things” motto, seemed to be an exception, McNamee says. “When I made the investment, it was exclusively because I thought Mark was different.” He still does.

“I’m not saying he’s a perfect human being; I’m just saying he’s not an evil human being. Sheryl is not an evil human being. They have blind spots, and they’re getting horrible advice from people who owe them way better advice.”

McNamee’s activism began in early 2017. That April he joined forces with Tristan Harris, a computer scientist who had worked at Google and then left to build an organisation dedicated to advocating for a more humane approach to technology. In July, they went to Washington DC together and had their first meeting with Mark Warner, the co-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, one of the bodies looking into possible Russian election interference in 2016. Later that year, an old school friend of McNamee’s was added to the task force: Jim Steyer, the founder of Common Sense Media. Steyer arranged a meeting between McNamee and Eric Schneiderman, the attorney general of New York at the time. Within months, 37 state attorney generals had begun investigations into Facebook.

By January 2018, it was clear that the trio’s efforts were beginning to attract attention in Silicon Valley. Andrew Bosworth, a member of Facebook’s management team, tweeted, “I’ve worked at Facebook for 12 years and I have to ask: who the f*** is Roger McNamee?” The target of the abuse was thrilled. “What a favour, right? They had ignored us for the prior year. Failing to ignore us at that particular moment in time couldn’t have been more helpful.”

McNamee sees no prospect of the tech giants taking the responsibility to change upon themselves and agrees that government intervention is the most likely path to success. His team has briefed both “key players in the Trump administration” and Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat who now leads the House of Representatives. “You can’t solve the problem until you change the business model,” he says, adding that the two companies have reached a monopoly scale and breadth that is uncompetitive and bad for the economy. This argument resonates with both pro-business conservatives and socially conscious liberals. “The reason that Google and Facebook are two of the most profitable companies ever is because they are creating all this damage and not paying for it,” he says. “Exactly as coal companies never paid for the pollution or the health consequences of what they did … They are only great businesses because they have not been held to account.

“If I only get one message across, it’s that these platforms depend on us,” he says. “Without users, they are nothing. We have the power to affect change. The question is, what are we willing to give up in order to make the world a better place?”

McNamee has given up plenty. There are “a lot of people who don’t want to be associated with me any more, because Silicon Valley’s like a club and it doesn’t pay to speak poorly of the biggest people in the Valley”.

He has had to wean himself off being “massively, massively addicted in a behavioural sense to the platforms”, too, re-engineering his Facebook feed to strip out any politics and no longer using Google wherever possible (he uses DuckDuckGo as a search engine).

He has continued to experience “waves” of personal attacks “from Facebook” over his campaign, and the company is now attempting to discredit his book. A spokesperson for Facebook told The Times, “We take criticism seriously. Over the past two years, we’ve fundamentally changed how we operate to better protect the safety and security of people using Facebook. The reality is, Roger McNamee hasn’t been involved with Facebook for a decade.”

But Facebook is also scrambling to restore confidence after seeing its share price fall by a third since July. In Davos last month, Sandberg said that the company “did not anticipate all of the risks from connecting so many people”. She acknowledged that, “We need to earn back trust.”

McNamee does not regret taking a stand at all. And he is not finished yet.

“Speaking truth to power is a brutal thing for anybody to do. Better for somebody in my position. I’m older. I’m in a better position to lose than most people and I have a personality that’s used to having everybody either not care or actively dislike me. Does that feel good? Nope. Never has. But somehow I have learnt to live with it.”

He smiles decisively. “Every day when I get up I ask myself, ‘Am I still doing this?’ Every day I think about it, usually not for very long, and go, ‘Yep, there’s more to be done.’ ”

1 comment:

Sierra said...

Oh! The irony!

"Isabel Pardo de Vera [President of ADIF, the Spanish state-owned railway infrastructure manager] arrived in Lugo by car after her flight to A Coruña was diverted to Santiago, but says that Adif is doing everything possible to make the train to Madrid competitive in the medium term"